There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
Poison Ivy: Toxicodendron radicans
Leaves in three? Let them be!
Have you ever heard the phrase "Leaves in three? Let them be!"? This is because poison ivy has three leaves per leaflet, and it's an easy way to remember what to stay away from. A rash from poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac is caused by an oil found in these plants called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all). When this oil touches your skin, it often causes an itchy, blistering rash. Another easy way to identify poison ivy during this time of year is by it's change in colour. Because of the change in temperature the leaves can turn from green, to yellow, to orange, to red, before falling off for the winter.
What if you come in contact with the plant?
When you come in contact with poison ivy, it has an oil on it that makes some people react and develop a rash. But the oil doesn't stay with the rash; so brushing up against someones rash by accident doesn't necessarily mean you yourself are going to contact the poison icy rash. Some studies have shown that 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy, but this could explain why some people don't seem to be affected by poison ivy at all. It can take several days or even a couple of weeks for a rash to form, and the time of development for a rash differs for each person.
You should avoid poison ivy growing in the wild because it can cause an itchy, annoying, and even painful rash. If you do come in contact with the plant, it's best to thoroughly wash your skin to remove any oils and also wash your clothes. The oil can stay on clothes and be contagious that way. Cold compresses and antihistamine pills can also be used to help suppress the pain, and urge to itch.
As a frontier-type ecosystem, wetlands are particularly vulnerable to climatic variation and extreme events. Many wetlands are unstable to begin with, and are easily or frequently changed by erosion and flooding. As our climate changes, wetland water supply becomes a major concern. The hotter, drier summers we are experiencing combined with the increased use of water for irrigation could reduce the supply of water for wetlands. A lower volume of water would increase the concentrations of pollutants that settle in wetlands (agricultural chemicals, naturally occurring salts, atmospheric pollutants), and there is a real threat that wetlands will disappear altogether as evaporation empties them and runoff fails to recharge aquifers that sustain them. The loss of prairie wetlands spells doom for more than just ducks. Other wetland species such as muskrats, painted turtles, frogs, redwing and yellow-headed blackbirds and a diversity of aquatic invertebrates will also be out of a home.
For information on what you can do to combat climate change, visit the Climate
Change Connection website at climatechangeconnection.org/solutions.
As evidenced by the gradual appearance of yellow leaves and the smell crisp September air, fall is well on its way. As far as we're concerned, this isn't bad news. There are still weeks of great weather ahead, and plenty to take in this upcoming season. Whether you load up the car one evening to watch the fall migration or simply drop in for a stroll amid the sights of the changing canopy, there is always something spectacular to take in at FortWhyte Alive.
Come by FortWhyte one evening to witness this magical migration ritual complete with a bonfire and BBQ, or dine in style with a three-course feast Buffalo Stone Café. Learn more about Sunset Goose Flights here and Goose Flight Feasts here.
This two-day yoga festival features classes with renowned instructors from across North America, nature hikes, empowering speakers, and musical delights from local musicians and DJs -- and free admission all weekend at FortWhyte Alive! Visit prairielovefestival.com for details.
Celebrate the harvest and the changing of the season with a full day of family-friendly activities at FortWhyte's Fall Family Festival. Take part in classic FortWhyte fun like bison safaris, bannock roasts, guided hikes and more!
Take part in the longest ‘race’ we’ve ever held by signing up for the FortWhyte Alive Mileage Challenge or sign your family up for a day of fun at FortWhyte Alive's Family Adventure Race, both brand new events this September.
Celebrate harvest time on the prairies with good friends and great fare at the 2nd Annual Harvest Supper at FortWhyte Farms. All proceeds from the supper support youth engaged in healthy food programming and employment training at FortWhyte Farms. September is also your last month to check out The Market at FortWhyte Farms!
Photo by Gerald Kornelsen
Pelicans are the longest native bird in North America; from beak tip to tail they can measure almost two metres! Pelicans also have the second longest wingspan next to the California condor. Their large size and their bright white plumage make them easy to spot from afar. They have giant, flat bills with a large throat pouch for catching fish. Immature pelicans have light grey plumage with a dark brown neck nape. Male and female birds look identical, but while female pelicans typically weigh an average of 10 pounds (4 kg), males tip the scale at an average of 13 pounds (6 kg).
Pelicans nest in groups of several hundred birds on remote islands in freshwater lakes. In Manitoba, the largest numbers of pelicans nest in the Interlake Region, and then fly south to California and the Gulf of Mexico in winter.
Pelicans are rarely hunted by larger animals, as they live in large colonies; however, red foxes and coyotes are their main predators. Some species of gulls have also been known to steal pelican eggs. If pelicans sense a threat, they will not abandon their nests, but instead will fight off the predator with their large beaks!
Pelicans typically eat fish, such as perch and carp, as well as crayfish and small amphibians. In the summer months, pelicans fish on shallow lakes, because warm water brings fish to the surface. Pelicans travel in groups of a dozen or more in search of food. The birds can work together to corral a school of fish, or forage alone and even steal food from other pelicans and gulls.
Watch the pelicans at FortWhyte hunting solo at the aerator bubbler in Lake Devonian, or swimming along shore in groups.
Pelicans arrive at their breeding grounds between early April and early June. During breeding season, both male and females grow a bump on the top of their beaks, which is shed once the pair has laid eggs. Females typically lay two to three eggs, but some produce as many as six.
Pelican chicks are naked upon birth and grow white down feathers before moulting to immature plumage. Chicks can crawl at one to two weeks old, walk and swim at three weeks, and fly at 9 to 10 weeks old.